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Current Issue Article Abstracts

October 2016  Vol. 77.4

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A Humanist in the Kloyz: New Perspectives on the Maharal of Prague and Jacques Bongars

Joanna Weinberg

The article focuses on one entry written in Hebrew in the Album amicorum belonging to the great humanist and diplomat Jacques Bongars. This precious document challenges conventional wisdom about aspects of the life and work of both Bongars and the Maharal of Prague, a central figure in Jewish cultural life in sixteenth-century Central Europe. By setting the album entry in both figures’ historical and cultural worlds, the article reveals how the worlds of these two late great Renaissance figures were intertwined.

Galileo’s Two New Sciences as a Model of Reading Practice

Renée Raphael

Galileo’s 1638 Two New Sciences, a canonical text of early modern science, is analyzed as a window into period practices of mixed-mathematical reading. Galileo’s depiction of reading reflects common scholarly practices, including those of summarizing, commenting, repeated study, and an interest in mathematical diagrams. With this text, Galileo also attempted to shape his readers’ practices, inciting them to approach topical-based reading strategies with care and to use experiment and experience to validate the written word. It is suggested that the concern with reading practices exhibited in the text derived from circumstances surrounding Galileo’s 1633 condemnation.

Ideas on the Move: Context in Transnational Intellectual History

Edward Baring

Intellectual historians have often associated contexts with places. In this paper, I examine the effects of this association and develop a different model more suited to transnational study. I guide my analysis by a study of neo-scholastics in the early part of the twentieth century, who wrote for a transnational audience. They were able to make their texts intelligible to readers in different countries by drawing on a shared archive of medieval scholasticism. Their example, I suggest, provides insights into the meaning and value of contextualization, and opens up new ways to understand how ideas transcend geographical and temporal divides.

Cybernetic Muse: Hannah Arendt on Automation, 1951–1958

Brian Simbirski

Almost no attention has been given to Hannah Arendt’s discussion of automation despite her claim that it was of almost unparalleled importance. This article demonstrates how Arendt’s conception of political action came to depend on her assessment of American technological trends following nuclear fission, especially automation and cybernetics. It contextualizes Arendt’s engagement with American interlocutors, showing how this informed her conception of political action in The Human Condition (1958). It is intended to provide some groundwork for further exploration of Arendt’s consideration of how modern technology and politics correlated.

Introduction to the Symposium on Jonathan Israel’s Democratic Enlightenment

Richard Wolin

An introduction to the symposium to follow, on Jonathan Israel’s 2011 volume Democratic Enlightenment, with contributions by Helena Rosenblatt, Joanna Stalnaker, and Jonathan Israel. The symposium was held at the CUNY Graduate Center on February 25, 2013, and moderated by Richard Wolin; all contributions have been revised for publication.

Rousseau, the “Traditionalist”

Helena Rosenblatt

This contribution to the symposium on Jonathan Israel’s Democratic Enlightenment focuses on Israel’s treatment of Rousseau, in particular contesting his characterization of Rousseau as a “traditionalist” thinker.

Jonathan Israel in Dialogue

Joanna Stalnaker

This essay addresses Jonathan Israel’s work on the Enlightenment and his response to his critics, with a particular focus on his interpretation of the French Enlightenment figures Denis Diderot and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The essay makes the argument that the stakes of the vociferous exchange between Israel and his critics concern not just our historical interpretation of the Enlightenment, but also the place of dialogue in our search for historical and philosophical truth. In neglecting the central importance of dialogue in Enlightenment thought, Israel has attributed a static quality to the thought of the radical thinkers he seeks to champion.

Rousseau, Diderot, and the “Radical Enlightenment”: A Reply to Helena Rosenblatt and Joanna Stalnaker

Jonathan Israel

The final contribution to the symposium on Jonathan Israel’s Democratic Enlightenment, in which Israel responds to the preceding essays by Helena Rosenblatt and Joanna Stalnaker.